Causes of Hunger

The causes of hunger vary somewhat depending on whether it is true hunger from an appetite increase or from the body’s need for more food (e.g. not having or digesting enough food). Or is it overeating behavior without any real physiological need for extra food? There is some overlap between all these related symptoms.

Simple Causes: Simple physiological causes of increased hunger include:

  • Normal. Eating and hunger is a normal behavior, and is not always a disorder.
  • Adolescence. Ask a teenager if they’re hungry, the answer is yes. However, note that this age group is also at risk for Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Growth spurt. As children grow, the food needs may increase at times. But pre-teens and younger children may also have other disorders (e.g. IDDM)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Inadequate food intake (e.g. neglect, poverty, or practical difficulties with shopping or food preparation in the elderly)
  • Malnutrition
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Migraine (usually only temporary hunger symptoms in the “aura”)

Emotional Health: Simple psychological or emotional causes of hunger or overeating include:

Mental Health Disorders: Psychological disorders that may lead to unusual hunger, either from weight loss or from abnormal emotions causing hunger include:

Excessive Eating: Causes of “overeating”, which is mostly the same symptom as “hunger” (but not always), include:

Unexplained Hunger: Disease causes of abnormal hunger include:

Gastrointestinal Disorders: Acute hunger may result from a defect of the gastrointestinal tract, where not enough food is being digested, such as:

Other Causes: Other causes of hunger include:

Episodic Hunger: Any cause of hunger is somewhat episodic in nature, because it may be sated by food, but sometimes there are clearly temporary episodes of abnormal hunger. Some of the causes of bouts or episodes of abnormal hunger, rather than constant hunger, may include:

Similar Symptoms: See also causes of related symptoms:

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.